Don’t say the C-word!!

Oh my golly gosh!

I’ve done my Christmas shopping!!

We’re going to the UK soon, and we’ll be seeing both sides of the family…so I have bought some nice things on the Eden Project site, and on Namaste Fair Trade and we’ll have them delivered to my MiL’s house. I can wrap them up, and then deliver them directly (or leave them with MiL)!! That will save on postage costs and awkwardness of wrapping things up to post.

All the nephews and nieces are getting Christmas decorations – I’d usually buy these at the Christmas markets, but Jane & I aren’t going this year (for various reasons) Some books for the great nephews and great nieces (save those in Malaysia…) to be purchased in the UK and we’re done!

I think my Christmas present will be money for a new laptop – I need one for work, and mine died back in February-ish. I’ve been using my phone for downloading audio and videos but it’s not very good, really.

How organised am I?!

Cats on the Underground

What a splendid idea!

An inspirational group of cat lovers have replaced every advertising hoarding in Clapham (Cat-ham?!) Common tube station with cat pictures! d The Citizens Advertising Takeover Service (CATS, if you didn’t get that) started a crowdfunding campaign to raise enough money to replace the standard adverts  with pictures of, well, cats, with more than 60 adverts displaying cute kittens and cats from every angle.

At first, the plan was just to put up pretty pictures of cats. But after thinking things through, CATS decided to display photos of animals in need of loving homes – so many of the pictures  are cats from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home or Cats Protection, the UK’s largest feline welfare charity.

CATS said that their reasons for doing this were…
  • It would be amazing
  • It’s exhausting being asked to buy stuff all the time. “Wouldn’t it be great not to worry about the holiday we can’t afford, the car we don’t need, or the body we don’t have? Imagine a world where public spaces made you feel good.”
This blog post gives more information….
I have since read the article more carefully, and found that this happened in 2016 – still…it’s still a lot of fun!!

 

A local chateau fort

A Chateau Fort is the French word for what we’d probably call a castle – not one of your poncy chateaux with fancy turrets and posh staircases like this one:

While we have a couple of those in the area, they’re not open to the public (unless you go Air bnb!) But we do have the ruins of a good old Chateau Fort – Le Chateau des Cornes d’Urfé

This was the “cradle” of the Urfé family, who ruled this corner of the Loire departement – but of course the departement didn’t exist then! Anne d’Urfé – a bloke – was one of the first Seigneurs, and his heart is interred in the little chapel here in St Just. Honoré d’Urfé wrote what is considered to be one of the first novels, a story called “Astrée”, after which our street is named. Later on, the family owned a more Chateau-y Chateau, Le Bastie d’Urfé, on the plain

but at the beginning the Chateau des Cornes d’Urfé was their home. It was remarkably well situated to view the Chateau in St Just itself, and that in Champoly, about 10 km away And – of course – it dominated the valley in the mountains, probably making it ideal to demand tolls from those passing, as well as keeping an eye on any aggressive movement of men from either of the neighbours!

I visited with my friend, Jane, while she was here.

This is the view from the tower, looking towards St Just. As you can see the chateau is now in ruins, and while volunteers come every summer to help to restore the building, they can only do so much. We were amused that the only nod to health and safety was a notice saying “Soyez Prudent” (Be careful) – climbing the steps inside the tower was not for the faint hearted: unlit, uneven, steep, low-ceilinged and no handrail of any description (until the final 10 steps when there was a rope to hang onto!) I’m sure in the UK it wouldn’t have been allowed!

After admiring the view we strolled around the bottom of the Chateau

 

We used to bring visitors here all the time, but I hadn’t been for ages. It was a pleasure to come back – especially on such a nice day. It wasn’t very clear however, but on a really clear day you can see Mont Blanc in one direction and Puy de Dome in the other.

The cards you never want to make…

Last week we heard on Tuesday that the wife of one of Mr FD’s oldest friends had been diagnosed with aggressive liver cancer. On Thursday evening we heard that she had died. What can one say or do in a situation like that?

We had only re-made contact with H – the friend – a few years back, and so had only met T a handful of times, but she was lovely: down to earth, fun, and kind hearted. We had loked forward to getting to know her better, but it was not to be.

On Saturday I made two condolence cards (as always, click on the photos to get a better view). This was my first effort:

I quite like this one – although the gel glue I used wasn’t my usual brand, and it didn’t stick as well, leaving some bumps and marks. The flowered paper was from the front of a free magazine (which I snaffled purely for the front cover!) and the butterfly was die-cut from some shiny blue wrapping paper. But I wasn’t happy with it. Partly because of the glue, but partly because it seemed a bit “meh”. And T wasn’t “meh”.

So I tried again

I chose daffodils, as both T and H are Welsh. I much preferred this one – using paper from a co-ordinated paper pad (from Noz) and yellow ribbon (Noz) The stick-on gold is also from either Noz or another discount store! I also used my usual glue, so there was no glue-related complaints!

As you can see, I used the same sentiment in both – I found it on t’internet and thought it was eminently suitable.

Although Mr FD iniatially chose the first card, when I pointed out the daffodils (he’s not always that observant about fine details) he changed his mind!

While I wonder if the second is a bit too brightly coloured, I still prefer it. What do you think?

When good intentions go wrong!!

I had such good intentions…

 

I had just set off to work, and was driving quite slowly. As I looked in my side mirror I saw a beautiful white moth clinging on for dear life. Thinking it would get squished by a car if it fell off I stopped, and tried to encourage it to move off the mirror. Using an old parking ticket I flicked it off the mirror.

It fluttered briefly, and lmanded in the middle of the road.

“No-o-o! You’ll get squished!” I said, and hastily scooped it up again (it was early. There were no other cars coming)

It fluttered again, and caught a slight breeze, so fluttered over to a trellis fence where it landed. I could see it clearly against the dark fence.

“Phew,” I thought, “It’s safe now…”

…and watched in horror as a bird flew down and ate it!!!!

 

Hey ho.

Sorry, no. The bird has already eaten it!!

A little library.

It seems these little libraries are popping up all over, using all manner of inventive items to house the books:

     

We used to have one in the village which used an old stationery roundabout, with doors. A bit like this, but less new and clean and attractive

It wasn’t very well insulated, and the books quickly became damp and damaged. It certainly didn’t look very inviting. Sometime over the past year it disappeared.

Well, this morning I passed the place where it had been, to find a beautiful new display case, which is obviously well-constructed, and definitely weatherproof! It is a delight!

  

You can see that there are fixed chairs too, so should one be inclined to, one could sit in the sunshine and read one of the books. It’s not the most picturesque part of the village, but it’s not hideous!

As the sign on the side tells us:

Book Cabins made by the employees of the wood workshop of our Upcycling centre, using recycled/reused materials taken from our collections, and reintroduced into the cyclical economy. If you see what I mean!! Acora is a second hand centre, where they also repurpose old pieces of furniture.

Of course, all the books are French, but with tourists in mind (there’s a campsite in the village) I went home immediately and rooted out some of my English books which I added to the library. Hopefully some other people will add their foreign language books. I think these free libraries are a great idea. The New MrsM – whose blog I read – created one as one of her 40 Acts of Kindness a couple of Lents ago, and there’s one set up near Church (I popped a few English novels in there a couple of months ago)

Have you got a Little Library near you?

 

Avoiding la Fete Patronale (as much as possible!)

Last weekend it was the Fete Patronale of our village. This is when the whole village has a fun time, with a travelling fair, and fireworks, and fun events for the Kiddies. It starts on Friday night, when the fairground opens, with flashing lights, and loud music, and goes on through to Monday evening, when the fair has its last hurrah. There are fireworks on Saturday night, and the fair shuts down about midnight that evening; on Sunday the loudspeaker bellows out its announcements and running commentary. The main street with its parking is taken over by the stands selling candy floss, and hook-a-duck and shooting stalls…

Did I say “the whole village”? Hmm, maybe not. We overlook the square where the fair sets up. We are therefore subject to all the noise and inconvenience from Thursday onwards. We get mightily pissed off by it. (as you can tell by the fact I’ve written a post complaining about it practically every year I’ve been writing this blog!!!) But, it’s part of village life so we can do no more than try to live with it. And, thanks to a friend and Mr FD, this year was the most bearable it’s been.

Friday evening wasn’t too bad – we closed all the shutters and had the TV a bit louder than usual. When we went to bed, the music was still going – the bass in particular was reverberating through the air – but I was so tired that I managed to fall asleep, despite the noise. Mr FD put on his noise cancelling headphones and listened to the radio until the fair closed down.

On Saturday, the noise didn’t really start until about 3 o’clock, when Mr FD suggested we took ourselves off somewhere. We couldn’t decide where, but finally we took our books, music and a bottle of water up to the local chateau, where there was a bench beneath the shade of a plane tree. We spent a (almost) peaceful afternoon there: we could still hear the music, and especially the rhythmic thump of the bass, but it was dulled enough to be able to ignore it. We were joined for much of the time, by this charming little cat

We went home at 6.15, feeling thoroughly refreshed and at peace. We then went up to Friend Richard’s – he lives about 5 km outside the village, and had kindly offered to let us sleep at his place that night. We had a meal with himù and Friend Cathy, and then drove down to the village to feed the cats and to make sure they were OK during the fireworks. Then we drove back to Richard’s. We settled into bed – but even there we could still hear the bass beat and the faint sound of music floating on the night air! We were grateful not to be in the midst of it!

On Sunday afternoon, we decided to do the same thing, so we took our books etc., plus a couple of flasks of hot water and tea bags, and scones (for afternoon tea!)  back to “our” bench. We read and listened to podcasts until about 6.30. Then we spent the evening with all shutters tightly closed watching TV. We couldn’t work out how Pomme could sleep quite happily out on the balcony, with the flashing lights, wailing sirens from the dodgem cars, and thumping bass. But she was happily sleeping away the evening! Although I wasn’t as tired as on Friday, I told myself that, as I am perfectly capable of falling asleep in front of the TV, I was able to drift off to sleep with the thump of music as a background noise. And I did!

Today is the last day for the Fete – I think they have even started to dismantle some of the stands. So we can breathe a sigh of relief that it’s all over for another year…and we weathered this year better than most!